Posts Tagged ‘factory’

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Workers in Bangladesh have managed to shut down more than 300 garment factories in protest over pay and working conditions after a building collapse killed more than 1,100 people.

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Muhammad Yunus believes we can fix the problems of the garment industry in Bangladesh by establishing a minimum international wage for the industry.

This might be about 50 cents an hour, twice the level typically found in Bangladesh. This minimum wage would be an integral part of reforming the industry, which would help to prevent future tragedies. We have to make international companies understand that while the workers are physically in Bangladesh, they are contributing their labour to the businesses: they are stakeholders. Physical separation should not be grounds to ignore the wellbeing of this labour.

I’m certainly not against raising the minimum wage for Bangladeshi garment workers. But it’s at all clear to me how that would have prevented the death of more than a thousand workers in the Savar building collapse, much less justify Yunus’s claim that “We would put a special tag on each piece of clothing. The tag would say: “From the happy workers of Bangladesh, with pleasure. Workers’ well-being guaranteed.”

What if, in addition to having a higher minimum wage, Bangladeshi garment workers actually had a say in how their factories were organized, how they were built, how they bargained with domestic and foreign contractors, and so on?

Than that special tag—”From the happy workers of Bangladesh, with pleasure”—might actually have some legitimacy.